Maryland Weekly Fishing Report Overview | August 15, 2012

Fishermen have been dodging thunderstorms and strong fronts that have been moving through all regions of Maryland for the last week. Perhaps there is a change in the air and the heat and drought conditions are finally coming to an end; Labor Day is just around the corner with the promise of cooler weather. Herb Floyd sent in this picture and mentioned he kept a cautious eye on this thunderstorm and small water spout forming out on the Chesapeake while he was fishing on Saturday.

Photo Courtesy of Herb Floyd

Fishermen at the Conowingo Dam pool continue to find striped bass action in the early morning and evening hours by casting swim shad lures. There are also plenty of white perch and channel catfish in the lower Susquehanna and nearby tidal rivers such as the Elk, Bohemia, Sassafras and Chester. The Baltimore Harbor area has good white perch fishing as does the Hart-Miller Island area. Striped bass and bluefish continue to be found in the areas of the bay below Rock hall. The throwback ratio for striped bass can be high at times when chumming or casting to breaking fish; trolling, live lining spot and jigging tend to offer a better grade of fish.

The Bay Bridge piers have been a good place to live line spot this week for striped bass; the spot are available in the shallower areas near the bridge or places like the inshore waters of Hackett's Bar. Schools of breaking fish made up of striped bass, bluefish and Spanish mackerel have been popping up all over the middle bay region chasing bay anchovies; often without the company of sea gulls. A large portion of the striped bass on the surface are small but often larger fish can be found underneath the surface action by jigging. Trolling small spoons has been very effective for the bluefish and Spanish mackerel and bucktails tend to be working better for the striped bass. Bryan Floyd and B.J. Doyle are happy with their Spanish mackerel they caught near Poplar Island on Saturday morning while trolling.

Photo Courtesy of Herb Floyd

The Hill continues to be a popular place to live line spot for striped bass as well as steep channel edges near Thomas Point and the Diamonds. A mix of white perch and croaker are being found by fishermen at traditional locations such as the Eastern Bay area, Hackett's Bar and the lower sections of the regions tidal rivers.

In the lower bay region, fishermen have been finding a mix of striped bass, bluefish and Spanish mackerel roaming the region. Since the channel edge outside of the Gas Docks has declined in producing striped bass for fishermen live lining spot; fishermen have been moving around to find striped bass holding at locations such as Point No Point, Buoy 72 and the mouth of the Potomac. Fishermen have also been chumming with good success for striped bass and bluefish at the mouth of the Potomac and Middle Grounds areas. There is a fairly high throwback ration on striped bass when chumming but plenty of action; especially with bluefish. Many fishermen have been trolling a combination of bucktails, small spoons and surgical tube lures along channel edges and concentrations of fish with good results. Often the spoons are run behind planers or inline weights for Spanish mackerel and at a little faster clip.

Some of the best croaker fishing in the lower bay region has been occurring in the lower Potomac River this week in the region of Piney Point and the Saint Mary's River. White perch are holding in all of the region's tidal rivers and the Patuxent has been particularly good for large spot, croaker and white perch. On the eastern side of the bay fishermen are finding a mix of bluefish, striped bass and speckled trout in the shallower regions along the marshy shorelines. Out in the deeper waters bottom fishing is generally a mix of croaker, spot, bluefish and white perch. Fishermen have been targeting flounder along the channel edges on shell bottom and coming up with some respectable flounder for their efforts.

Recreational crabbing in all region's of the bay remains good this week. Many crabbers are now seeing good crabs moving into the tidal rivers of the upper bay. In the middle and lower bay regions salt water intrusion far up the tidal rivers has urged large male crabs to move farther up the tidal rivers. Recreational crabbers who are crabbing in the lower sections of the tidal rivers are encountering a high number of small crabs and female crabs.

Freshwater fishermen continue to see freshwater fisheries in all regions of the state holding to a typical summer pattern of fish behavior due to warm water temperatures. The upper Potomac River is running low and warm and making for some challenging fishing for smallmouth bass. Fishing for channel catfish has been very good and the low water levels are making wading opportunities that normally do not exist for shore bound fishermen. Fishermen at Deep Creek Lake are finding good fishing for a mix of walleyes and smallmouth bass in the evenings by casting deep running crankbaits of drifting minnows under a bobber. This smallmouth bass caught in the Monocacy by Feldy Suwito is typical of the smallmouth's being found in the upper Potomac and Deep Creek lake.

Photo Courtesy of Feldy Suwito

Largemouth bass fishing continues to remain mostly an early morning and evening proposition when fishing the shallower areas near grass. Chatterbaits and spinnerbaits have been a good choice when working the grass beds and spatterdock fields. Small lipless crankbaits have also been a good choice for largemouth bass around cover. During sunny times of the day targeting deep sunken wood, shade from fallen tree tops, docks and thick grass with stick worms and crawdad type soft plastics has been working well for fishermen.

Evening fishing for bluegills near lily pads and grass can be a good choice for fishermen using crickets or worms under a bobber or using rubber-legged poppers and spider type foam bugs with a 4wt fly rod. Fishing for channel catfish can also a good choice for a summer evening in some of the deeper channel areas with cut bait or chicken livers.

Ocean City fishermen can look forward to good surf fishing for a summer mix of kingfish, croaker, spot and small bluefish early in the mornings before the sun climbs into the sky. Around the inlet and back bay areas fishermen are finding good flounder fishing when water clarity is good. Using larger baits such as live spot and Gulp baits on a jig head are accounting for a larger grade of flounder than the traditional squid strip/minnow combination. Around the jetty rocks sheepshead and triggerfish are being caught during the day and a few nice striped bass continue to be caught at night on swim shads.

The White Marlin is now history with 253 boats entered this year; the inlet was a busy place with sport fishing boats coming and going. The big winner who had entered all the Calcutta's came away with a whopping 1.4 million dollars. A lot of boats that were fishing the canyons reported double digit releases at times; there was a nice blue marlin caught, some impressive tuna and a pending state record scalloped hammerhead shark.

If the winds calm down this week the boats heading out to the wreck sites should get back into the swing of things with sea bass and flounder. Large flounder have become more common on the wreck fishing trips lately making up for the high throwback ratio of sea bass.

"Hunters and fishermen were the first explorers and the joy of discovery has never faded in either sport. It is not necessary to be the original discoverer, though that is perhaps the brightest pleasure of all; it is enough to feel discovery, to have come to it by some exercise of wisdom and woodcraft and to know that it is shared by only a few others." They Pass in the Night, Roderick Haig-Brown


Keith Lockwood has been writing the Fishing Report since 2003 and has had a long career as a fisheries research biologist since 1973. Over the course of his career he has studied estuarine fishery populations, ocean species, and over a decade long study of bioaccumulation of chemicals in aquatic species in New Jersey. Upon moving to Oxford on the eastern shore of Maryland; research endeavors focused on a variety of catch and release studies as well as other fisheries related research at the Cooperative Oxford Laboratory. Education and outreach to the fishing public has always been an important component to the mission of these studies. Keith is an avid outdoorsman enjoying hunting, fishing, bird dogs, family and life on the eastern shore of Maryland.